By Shane Carley
On August 14, the independent science fiction steampunk feature film “Secret Within the Sphere” premiered in Gettysburg, at the R/C Gateway Theater 8. The film was filmed and produced in Central Pennsylvania, and the main cast are from Lancaster (Sugey Cruz, Alex Rudegeair, and Jeremy Good), Reading (Josh Spudeno), and Gettysburg (Austin Greene).
Writer and director David Noble describes the film as “a micro budget independent science fiction feature film… of an airship captain named Rudolph, who gets hired by local royalty from the planet of Wallacia to steal an artifact of historical importance. It hits a lot of the fundamental aspects of high adventure in a steampunk genre backdrop.”
“Secret Within the Sphere” is Noble’s fourth feature film with the production company he runs with his wife, Noble Park Films. Each film has been made in a different location, including a horror movie in the Louisiana backwoods (Zydeco, 2012), a martial arts film in Seoul, South Korea (The Knight Squad, 2014), and an adventure treasure hunt movie in El Paso, Texas (Lost Padre Mine, 2017).
Regarding the locations of his projects, Noble said “When you’re at a location, and you’re looking to produce a movie, the location and the backdrop shapes the type of movie you would make. We ended up in Pennsylvania and, between the Victorian backdrop of the amount of mansions and the affinity of the railroad system and other factors, we ended up making a science fiction steampunk movie.”
Noble said the majority of production took place over a nine day period, in which the cast and crew filmed around Central Pennsylvania, including a switch tower, the state national Railroad Museum, two different historical mansions, and the State Capitol building.
Noble was upfront about the way those involved with the project helped elevate it to the film it became. Pennsylvania based companies Broken Tile Productions and Winchell Media served as producers on the film, and helped Noble to secure the majority of the film equipment, the Director of Photography, and some of the other crew. “Sugey Cruz, in addition to being one of the leads, helped with casting auditions, as well as securing a lot of the cast itself. And recognizing Broken Tile and recognizing Winchell Media was just because of how much more so than most, those two groups came above and beyond.”
The entire project took three years to complete. “When you’re working in an independent film community, especially with micro budgets, the preponderance of people that participate have day jobs. But they still have to make a living so that they can do this on their off time,” Noble said.
The first year was spent writing the script, scouting locations, and casting. By the end of the first year, Noble was able to devise a nine day schedule from May to July where the cast could film on weekends over the three month period. “The second and third year, because we were navigating through COVID, that did pause stuff. The second and third year was really editing audio. And we reached out to post production creatives from, like, 15 different countries. So people around the world were doing different aspects of the visual effects. Whether it was audio recordings for voice overs in London, or music from musicians in Sri Lanka, or Australia, or India, or Israel, the post production effort really came together.”
When asked how independent production companies like Noble Park films can carve their own place in the cinema landscape while competing with the Hollywood studio system, he said: “You cannot. They’re able to throw hundreds of millions of dollars into things, and so what we have to do is, instead of competing at their game, you need to change the game in your favor. For us, when we produce a movie, we’re telling the story we want to tell and it’s not being micromanaged by executives. And so the story that we’re telling was “Secret within the Sphere,” and it was the best story we could tell, given the parameters. But when you look at the intricate locations, the cast, the crew, music, sound, any number of factors, there was a lot of energy that was invested into this film. But for us, we’ve got the friends, the memories, a project that was completed in the end. And there’s a lot of value to that.”
“Secret Within the Sphere” has received recognition at over a dozen festivals as official selections, semi finalists, and finalists. So far, it has won four awards, including “Best Sci-Fi.” Noble Park Film’s “Secret Within the Sphere” will be released in December on demand.